Loss Adjustment is a mother’s recount of her 17-year-old daughter’s suicide.
"I have had nothing bad happen to me except my own doing. I have let this cowardice envelop me, and I can't shake it off. I will commit the worst thing you can ever do to someone who loves you: killing yourself. The scary thing is, I'm okay with that."
—Victoria McLeod, Singapore, March 30, 2014
In the wake of Victoria McLeod’s passing, she left behind a remarkable journal in her laptop of the final four months of her life. Linda Collins, her mother, has woven these into her memoir, which is at once cohesive, yet fragmented, reflecting a survivor's state of mind after devastating loss.
Loss Adjustment involves the endless whys, the journey of Linda Collins and her husband in honouring Victoria, and the impossible question of what drove their daughter to this irretrievable act. A stunningly intimate portrait of loss and grief, Loss Adjustment is a breaking of silence—a book whose face society cannot turn away from.
Part of Linda's journey of loss and questioning can be emotionally taxing. We recognise that each person's feelings and difficulties are different, and it will be best to observe your feelings as you read it. If you find yourself feeling you're not in the right headspace, do put the book down and talk to someone about your feelings.
If you are gifting this book, do talk to the reader about the book's content, and let them know it is ok to stop reading if they feel uncomfortable and to talk to you or someone else. Together with Linda, we hope the book can encourage conversation instead of people closing off and dealing with emotions alone.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health-related issues, here are some helplines:
- Samaritans of Singapore (24-hour hotline): 1800-221-4444
- Community Health Assessment Team: 6493-6500/01 or click on the webchat icon at chat.mentalhealth.sg
- Singapore Association for Mental Health helpline: 1800-283-7019
""Up and down the corridors, I notice Year 12 students of Victoria’s age rushing in their blue-striped uniforms, laughing, full of energy. I allow myself for a moment, to hate them all for being alive." Linda Collins could have left this paragraph out in her memoir Loss Adjustment. But she chose to be judged. Her daughter had jumped to her death and her school lied to keep the tragedy low-key. She wanted the readers to know that a grieving mother is allowed to express other feelings than grief. Creativity guru Julia Cameron has said, "Writing is about honesty. It is almost impossible to be honest and boring at the same time." Linda’s brutally honest voice kept me reading. Mysteries surrounding her daughter's suicide were unraveled along with a tinge of supernatural insight. This memoir is more than just a heartbreaking story of a mother losing her child; it also sheds light on the struggle of a teenage girl trying to assimilate into the expatriate world."
—Anthony Koh Waugh, bookseller and writer, in "My Book of the Year 2019", Singapore Unbound
"Loss Adjustment is my book of the year as it is a beautifully written book about the grief and guilt that engulfs families that survive suicide loss. Her book also asks many important questions about the gaps in mental health safety nets in our educational institutions, and the inhumanity that ensues when human lives and the loss thereof are reduced to results or numbers. A book to be read with fear, trembling, and the heart. A book that needs to be read by those in power."
—Christine Chia, writer, in "My Book of the Year 2019", Singapore Unbound
"My favorite book this year is undoubtedly Loss Adjustment by The Straits Times copy editor Linda Collins, a New Zealander who’s lived in Singapore for many years. In language so sharp in its sheer clarity, Collins opens up an emotional investigation into her past. Or, more specifically, her daughter’s, and why a talented young writer on the cusp of becoming would take her own life at 17 years old. Honest and heartrending, Loss Adjustment is as much a memoir of a family coming to terms with grief as a postmortem of a troubled soul."
—Felix Cheong, poet and fiction writer, in "My Book of the Year 2019", Singapore Unbound
"It's been a year that begins with grief, and as the year ends I want to be able to say to myself that it is over, that I can repeat the well-meaning platitudes that are told to me, that I even sometimes tell others, and myself when I'm alone. But Loss Adjustment by Linda Collins came out, an account of her long mourning and struggle after the loss of her teenage daughter. It reminds me, powerfully, painfully, that there are reasons, good reasons, why those platitudes exist, and why they don't work for someone like me."
—Jason Wee, artist and writer, in "My Book of the Year 2019", Singapore Unbound
"A beautifully written, loving tribute. Courageous, raw and desperately moving. We urgently need to have more conversations on the personal and structural issues confronted in this book. Not just the need to create more tenderness and kindness in our communities but to introduce practical changes in schools and educational institutions in Singapore. I pray that the expatriate school in this book has taken a good, long, hard look at its culture and processes and made real changes to better support its students and their parents."
—Jon Gresham, writer and photographer, in "My Book of the Year 2019", Singapore Unbound
"I've known Linda Collins as a colleague back in the newsroom at The Straits Times, as many of us ex-journos have, for years. She's always struck me as the epitome of the saying: "Still waters run deep." I respect her but keep a deferential distance. That never quite prepared one for the emotional sledgehammer that is Loss Adjustment. How bracing, how unapologetic, how un-PC is her description of the aftermath of the suicide of her 17-year-old daughter, Victoria. The memoir is interspersed with naked journal entries left by the latter on her laptop – which creates a kind of unbearable tension simmering under the guise of normalcy. No, Linda won't break down, just because it's easier to do so. She's hard on herself and I hope writing this book is her way to reach out."
—Yeow Kai Chai, poet, in "My Book of the Year 2019", Singapore Unbound
"This is such a powerful book, a raw, honest reflection on a terrible loss. Loss Adjustment is the sort of book that kind of hurts to read, but it’s so important that we do read it, because the story in its pages is the sort of story that will reach and help people—not just in Singapore, but anywhere—for years to come. Depression, mental health, suicide, and loss— these are things that many of us are fortunate never to have to experience with the intensity that Collins has, but her courage to write about this is something that benefits us all and keeps the memory of her daughter alive."
—Kirsten Han, journalist and writer, in "My Book of the Year 2019", Singapore Unbound
About the Author
Linda Collins is a copyeditor on the political desk of The Straits Times. She may be familiar to readers, having used to write a monthly contribution to The Expat Files in the Sunday Times from 2009–2012. She has an MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML) at Victoria University, New Zealand and her non-fiction and poetry have appeared in Turbine, Swamp Living, The Fib Review, The Cordite Poetry Review and The Freerange Journal. She was shortlisted for the Hachette Australia Trans-Tasman mentorship, longlisted for a NZ flash fiction award and received an Honourable Mention in a Glimmer Train contest. Loss Adjustment was written three years after her daughter had died, and is a work of creative non-fiction.
Cover Type: Softcover
Page Count: 316
Year Published: 2019